Thursday 12 January 2012

Quoth the Scotsman | Chris Beckett on Being the Change

A couple of caveats to bear in mind before we start. Unless otherwise indicated, none of the quotes quoted in the following post are representative of the beliefs of the person in question quoted nor those of the person quoting the person in question. Additionally, any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

In short, Quoth the Scotsman is just a space here on TSS for me to post neat quotes as and when I come across them. Simple. As. That.


A year and a half ago, I came away from Chris Beckett's Bacigalupi-esque dystopian debut very impressed.  Curious newcomers can read my review of The Holy Machine in full here. 

Tweren't perfect, but it certainly did the trick, and at the time I said I'd be on the lookout for whatever Chris Beckett did next. Dark Eden is what.

Isn't it pretty?

Inside as well as out.

As of the time of this writing, I'm only halfway through Dark Eden, but it's been quite simply stunning. It's about the rise and fall of a small colony left to its own devices on a distant world without a sun to warm it, and the main character, John Redlantern, is a sort of revolutionary, determined to break with tradition for the sake of the greater good, though everyone and everything's against him.

The following excerpt occurs immediately after John, who is all of twenty wombtimes old - a newhair, as they say (use your imagination) - has taken on a leopard with just a thorn stuck to a stick. Incredibly, he lives to tell the tale... or rather to hear his friend Gerry tell it, again and again and again. The leopard wasn't so lucky, alas, and John is disgusted by the way everyone treats him like a hero of the ages simply for outsmarting an animal:

"You're all of you hiding up in trees like Gerry did, I said in my head to all those friendly smiling people, and that's the trouble with bloody Family. You eat and you drink and you slip and you quarrel and you have a laugh, but you don't really think about where you're trying to get to or what you want to become. And when trouble comes, you just scramble up trees and wait for the leopard to go away and then afterwards giggle and prattle on for wakings and wakings about how big and scary it was and how it nearly bit off your toes, and how so-and-so chucked a bit of bark at it and whatshisname called out a rude name. Gela's tits! Just look at you!

"And the thing was, the meat was starting to run out in Circle Valley. It was no good just hiding up a tree and giggling. Something was going to have to happen or a waking would come in the end when people in Family would starve. That's assuming that there wasn't another rock fall down by Exit Falls, in which case we might all drown instead.

"Never mind drowning or starving from lack of food, though. I was going to starve inside my head long before that, or drown in boredom, if I couldn't make something happen in the world, something different, something more than just this." (pp.32-33)

Dark Eden is certainly the best book I've read this month, and if it keeps on as darkly fantastic as it's begun, I wouldn't be surprised to see it place in Top of the Scots 2012. Stay tuned to TSS for the full review, which should be ready just as soon as I get back from Bratislava.

Sadly I don't see a release date for our friends across the pond, but here in the UK, Dark Eden is out right now from the good folks at Corvus, and The Book Depository ships overseas for free.

What are you waiting for? :)

1 comment:

  1. Awesome! Thanks for the wonderful kind words, Chris will be very pleased.

    Becci - Corvus Books